Spanish Empire

Spain’s Empire and
European Absolutism
Chapter 21, Section 1
Section Opener
During a time of
religious and
economic instability,
Philip II rules Spain
with a strong hand.
Philip II of Spain
May 21 1527 - September 13 1598
A Powerful Spanish Empire
A New Spanish Ruler
– In 1556, Philip II begins ruling Spain and its
Philip II’s Empire
– Philip seizes Portugal in 1580
– Gold and silver from Americas make Spain
extremely wealthy
A Powerful Spanish Empire
Defender of Catholicism
– Philip defends Catholicism against Muslims
and Protestants
– Spanish fleet helps defeat Ottomans at
Lepanto in 1571.
– Spanish Armada is defeated by the British in
Golden Age of Spanish Art and
El Greco and Velázquez
– El Greco uses unusual style to convey
religious themes
– Works of Velázquez show Spanish court life
Don Quixote
– In 1605, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
is published
– Novel marks the birth of the modern
European novel.
“Portrait of an Old Man”
This painting titled
“Portrait of an Old
Man” is considered a
self portrait by El
Greco, circa 1595–
1600, oil on canvas.
The Assumption of the
Virgin (1577–1579, oil on
canvas, 401 × 228 cm,
Art Institute of Chicago)
was one of the nine
paintings El Greco
completed for the church
of Santo Domingo el
Antiguo in Toledo, his
first commission in Spain.
This shows the religious
themes of his painting.
Diego Velázquez: two self portraits
Portrait of Pablo de
– A court fool or jester,
circa 1635
The Spanish Empire Weakens
Inflation and Taxes
– Inflation weakens Spain’s economy.
– Taxes on lower class prevents development of middle
Making Spain’s Enemies Rich
– Spaniards buy goods abroad, making Spain’s enemies
– Philip declares bankruptcy three times due to weak
The Dutch Revolt
– Protestants in the Netherlands win independence
from Spain in 1579.
"Queen Elizabeth I Feeds the Dutch Cow", a satirical Flemish painting, c. 1586. The cow represents
the Dutch provinces. King Philip II of Spain is vainly trying to ride the cow, drawing blood with his
spurs. Queen Elizabeth is feeding it while William of Orange holds it steady by the horns. The cow is
defecating on the Duke of Anjou, who is holding its tail - a reference to Anjou's fiasco at the "French
Fury" in Antwerp, three years previously
The Independent Dutch Prosper
A Different Society
– The Netherlands is a republic and practices
religious toleration.
Dutch Art
– In the 1600s, the Netherlands becomes center
of European Art
– Rembrandt and Vermeer are famous Dutch
Self portrait
Christ in the Storm
on the Lake of
Galilee by
Rembrandt, circa
1633. This original
painting was stolen
in 1990 and was
never recovered.
Paintings by Vermeer
Vermeer painted
scenes from every
day life. This painting
Milkmaid, is circa
Paintings by Vermeer
Officer Laughing With
Girl, is circa 16571659.
Paintings by Vermeer
The Little Street, is
circa 1657-1658.
The Independent Dutch Prosper
Dutch Trading Empire
– Dutch merchants engage in world trade
– Dutch have world’s largest trading fleet
– Dutch people replace Italians as Europe’s
Absolutism in Europe
The Theory of Absolutism
– Rulers want to be absolute monarchs—rulers with complete
– Believe in “divine right”—idea that monarchs represent God on
earth. (The idea can be derived from Romans 13: 1-4.)
Growing Power of Europe’s Monarchs
– Decline of Feudalism, rise of cities help monarchs gain power
– Decline of Church authority also increases power
Crises Lead to Absolutism
– The 17th century is a period of great upheaval
– Monarchs impose order by increasing their own power.
Possible Basis of
“Divine Right of Kings”
Romans 13:1-4
”Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
For there is no authority except from God, and those
that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore
whoever resists the authorities resists what God has
appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For
rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?
Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do
wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.
For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out
God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

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